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Re: [xmca] Mediation and a teacher's resignation

Hi Greg,

I do think that 'mediated' is the appropriate term. I was conducting field work in a school district when a precursor to NCLB was implemented at the state level. At the same time local reforms were being encouraged and the NSF state-systemic initiative was involved too. These reforms truly had a dramatic impact 'inside' the classroom - which is actually not self-enclosed at all. Tests, for example, are conducted within the four walls, but the scores are reported in the newspaper, are read as indicators of 'efficiency' by administrators and legislators, etc.

I see this as mediation because all the machinery of something like NCLB enters into the interaction between teacher and students - comes 'between' them.

I can say more if you're interested, and when I have more time.


On Jul 16, 2009, at 4:53 PM, Gregory Alan Thompson wrote:

I'm currently putting together an AERA panel on the meaning of
"context" and the mediating power of contexts and one of the
panelists is doing a paper on how national public policies
(esp. NCLB) mediate teacher-student relationships at the very
local level.

In light of this, I was wondering about the question of
"mediation" that is raised by Kim's earlier post with the
letter about the teacher's resignation -- in particular, in
what ways was (in this case) the teacher's relationship to her
students mediated by NCLB policies. (and this makes me wonder
whether it would be enough to use the weaker term "affected"
as opposed to the stronger term "mediated" - for those
mediationalists on the listserve, how can we disambiguate
these terms: "mediate" vs. "affect"?).

In looking through the letter, I was able to point to only a
few places that made the strong argument for how NCLB was
mediating (or even "affecting") the teacher's relationship
with her students. One was where the teacher notes that her
class didn't work because it was not "in compliance" with the
scheduling. Another was that they could no longer enforce a
"no tolerance" policy (I'm not familiar enough with NCLB to
know if this was part it, although it is clearly implied).

So I'm curious if there were other ways in which this
teacher's relationships with students (and with her principal
and/or other teachers) would have been mediated by NCLB? A big
part of my question stems from my own ignorance of NCLB and
the implementation of it - a knowledge which the teacher seems
to assume her audience has (and one would hope that Arne and
others at his office had this knowledge). Nonetheless, it
seems important to consider how these high level public
policies mediate (affect? constrain/enable?) relationships at
the lowest levels.

As a first time XMCA poster, I'm curious to hear your ideas. I
should note that I'm not a policy thinker, I do close-in
analyses of learning interactions, but it is hard to ignore
how the outsides are also inside of these interactions (an
antinomy that is resolved by an understanding of the mediating
power of social contexts?).

Greg Thompson
Ph.D. Candidate
The Department of Comparative Human Development
The University of Chicago
xmca mailing list

Martin Packer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Psychology Department
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA 15282
(412) 396-4852


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